The Hill doesn't know how to read polls

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Here's the dumbest article of the week, courtesy of The Hill:

Polls suggest healthcare debate a boon to GOP candidates running for Senate

By Aaron Blake - 11/12/09 04:45 PM ET

The healthcare battle appears to be helping Republicans running for the Senate.

Two Quinnipiac polls released Thursday show the leading GOP candidates in Connecticut and Ohio growing their leads.

Former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) leads Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), 49-38, and former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has opened his first leads over two potential Democratic opponents.

The surveys are the first major Senate polls since the House passed its healthcare bill on Saturday.

And here's a Quinnipiac press release about its Connecticut poll:

From November 3 - 8, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,236 Connecticut registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points. The survey includes 474 Democrats with a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points and 332 Republicans with a margin of error of +/- 5.4 percentage points.

So the poll was conducted from November 3 - 8. And The Hill thinks it reflects public reaction to a House vote that took place late in the day on November 7.

A House vote, by the way, that neither Dodd nor Simmons cast, as neither of them is a member of the House of Representatives.

Please.

And here's Quinnipiac's press release about the Ohio poll:

From November 5 - 9, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,123 Ohio voters, with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points. The survey includes 406 Republicans and 394 Democrats, each with a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points.

That's a little better, but for three of the five days the poll was in the field, the House health care vote had not yet happened. And, like Connecticut, nobody in the Ohio Senate race cast a vote, as none of them are members of the House of Representatives.

Here's a tip for The Hill: As a general rule of thumb, polling tends not to reflect public reaction to events that have not yet occurred.

UPDATE: From Quinnipiac's Ohio press release -- and not mentioned in The Hill's article -- "Ohio voters support 53 - 40 percent giving people the option of a government health insurance plan. Independent voters support this public option 55 - 38 percent." Quinnipiac found even more support for a public option in Connecticut, with 56 percent supporting such an option, and only 37 percent opposing.

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The Hill
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Aaron Blake
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